The district recently hired Chris Bergman as the Executive Director of teaching, learning and innovation. Bergman officially starts this position July 1 and is currently working at Waukee High School as the director of the Center of Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, similar to an internship program for students. “CAPS has five different strands that are identified and those are identified using economic trend data of what the workforce needs in Iowa and the metro,” Bergman said. “We have strands in engineering, actuarial science and insurance, human services, architecture, and design and communication solutions.”
Johnston is considering establishing CAPS, or a similar program, sometime soon. “There are a couple of different programs across the metro,” Bergman said. “I think what needs to happen is some kind of experience that melds together business, a collaboration of business, education, and the community.”
Waukee High School senior Nicole Miller participated in CAPS program during her fall semester. “I was in the designing, communications and solutions strand which focuses on graphic design encompassing Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and things like that those programs,” Miller said.
CAPS does not have any requirements to apply. “There are no GPA requirements, there are no prerequisite classes that you have to take,” Bergman said. “We believe that the CAPS experience is for every student that is passionate about learning in that field and wanting to be off campus in a real world setting.”
Taking part in the program makes you eligible to receive college credit. “It is necessary to have course-specific ALEKS scores to receive college credit from DMACC,” Bergman said.
Miller was interested in the program from the start. “I know that when I applied, at least everyone in my class, we all had at least had some kind of background in what we interested in,” Miller said. “There aren’t any stated prerequisite but I think that is definitely what they are looking for.”
CAPS gives students a real business experience and exposes them to the expectations of the workforce. “All of the classes are hands-on, they are real world projects, and then blended in there are all the professional skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, accountability, productivity and all of those things that all of our businesses are telling us that students need,” Bergman said.
Miller would attend DLR Group, a design firm, from noon to 12:30 p.m. every day. “I was with different students from my class and we were all in this office space and there were other business professionals around us, but there was a specific area that was designated for us,” Miller said. “We each had desk, and your own Mac laptop for half of the year.” The location that Miller traveled to was about 20 minutes off the Waukee High School campus, and she was given fifty minutes for lunch and traveling.
Other students from other strands of the program would travel to different locations such as Des Moines University and Shive-Hattery. “At Shive-Hattery the kids do all their learning through authentic projects, like real client projects,” Bergman said. “They were doing a traffic study getting ready to analyze the data for a road project and some of them were working on basically re-designing the work flow.”
Miller was glad that she participated in the CAPS program and thought it prepared her for the future. “When I went into it I thought I want to go into graphic design when I’m older and I realized I love graphic design but I could not sit behind a computer and do it for hours at a time,” Miller said. “Now I have a better idea of what I want to do when I am older and if I hadn’t of done that I would have had to of learned that in college and it would have taken more time.”